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Culture
The People

The people of Cyprus are traditionally warm and welcoming and consider a visit to their island as a compliment - one that is repaid with genuine hospitality, summed up in the Greek word Philoxenia: Friendship towards the guest. Their native language is Greek, but English is readily spoken in all the shops, restaurants and hotels - in fact just about everywhere. In a world of ever-increasing violence, Cyprus has a remarkably low crime rate, and from just one visit to the Island the visitor can understand why.

The pace is leisurely, the people kind and helpful, always ready with a smile. The Cypriots are hard workers too - resilient people who have withstood and accommodated the succession of invaders throughout their long history.


Town and Village Life
The towns of Cyprus present a modern cosmopolitan atmosphere blended with historic buildings and ancient monuments. Imposing colonial and classic style buildings rub shoulders with well-designed contemporary hotels, apartment blocks and attractive shopping streets, some narrow and quaint, others thoroughly modern.
 
By contrast, life in the villages follows a slower pace, reflecting the importance of agriculture, cottage industry and family ties. Traditional flat roofed village houses made of mud brick are a common sight, while stone-built dwellings with tiled roofs can be seen in the mountains. Many village houses feature delightful vine-shaded courtyards and the typical local oven "fourno" for homemade baking.

Colorful Culture
It is probably no surprise with a history so long, that Cyprus is remarkably rich in culture. Its importance has been honored by UNESCO, which has included nine of the island's Byzantine Mountain churches and the entire town of Kato Paphos in its World Cultural Heritage List. Wherever you tread in Cyprus you are reminded of a strong tradition that is kept alive from generation to generation through the many events, which are celebrated. Hardly a week goes by in Cyprus without a celebration of some sort, whether it is a colorful festival or homage to a saint on one of the numerous "name days".
Throughout the year there are also exhibitions, concerts, drama and folk festivals. Cypriot culture is also reflected in the rich folk art of the island. Age-old crafts, handed down from one generation to another, are faithfully carried on to this day by skillful hands and nimble fingers, fashioning handicrafts, both decorative and useful, that would grace any home.
The Greek Orthodox Church has been the mainstay of religion in Cyprus since the 1st century AD. and in a society where the church continues to play an important role, old style values have been maintained and the family unit retains close-knit qualities that keep colorful customs alive and underline the warm-hearted character of Cyprus. The people of Cyprus owe their individuality and warmth to the fact that they are the product of an amazingly colorful history. This sun-drenched island has been at the crossroads of world events for centuries. Roman, Byzantine, Greek and British influences (to name just a few) have all had a bearing on life in Cyprus.
 
Perhaps that’s why Cypriots have a special knack of making visitors feel at home as soon as they step off the plane or ship. That warm welcome, plus the unhurried pace of daily life, makes Cyprus an instant favorite of anyone who goes there. The island nation is a fascinating land of contrasts. It has some of the most sophisticated cities in the region, and yet, a short distance away, you can feel as if you have stepped back into a previous century, not just the 19th, but far back to a time when people pursued simpler pleasures.

Drop into almost any country tavern, or join the locals at a town market, and you will feel the atmosphere of a way of life that has remained essentially the same for centuries. The island has proved irresistible to many famous historical personalities, such as Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, Leonardo Da Vinci and Richard the Lion Heart. When Richard freed his imprisoned bride-to-be, Berengaria of Navarre, in 1191, Cypriots all across the island seized on the opportunity to have a party! As you can see, a delight in having a good time is at the heart of the Cypriot personality.
Observe the fun Cypriots have when they go out - perhaps in large family groups - to eat and drink, and you will see how important a lust for life is on this enchanted island. Get to know the people, and you will probably be invited back to a Cypriot home to enjoy a meal of "meze". Then, you’ll truly learn the meaning of the word “hospitality.”

Festivity
Religion and celebration are deeply entwined, and the most important event in the church calendar is the occasion of Easter.
 
Another popular religious festival and one, which is unique to Cyprus, is “Kataklysmos” meaning the Flood that coincides with Pentecost, and is celebrated at seaside towns - especially Larnaca.
 
But festive excuses are not hard to find. Every village has its “Panagyris” or fair usually at harvest time. On a larger scale the island celebrates its grapes at the annual Limassol Wine Festival; Its flowers at various town festivities. The Carnival, chiefly in Limassol (but recently in Larnaca and Paphos too) is celebrated with parades, parties and masked balls, and there are cultural festivals in summer including the ancient Greek Drama Festival.
 


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